Moving Forward

The Eagles are 1-4. The organization is in panic mode. Playoffs are looking less and less likely by the week. At this moment it looks like our only hope is to win the division but even that might be tough unless we go on a big run. It would appear the Eagles organization is flying full speed ahead to a fork in the road. Which path do we take? Which one will be the right one? I’ve done A LOT of thinking the past few weeks and here is what I’ve come up with.

You’ve got two basic options at this fork in the road, do you fire Andy Reid or do you keep him? At this point you’ve got two groups of people. You’ve got one group who thinks that Andy Reid is the greatest thing since sliced bread and that firing him would be a colossal mistake. Then you’ve got a group of savage Philly fans who think he is completely impotent. The organization is going to have a firmer grip on how to answer this question but as an outsider I think we must examine these things:

  1. How involved is Andy Reid with the defense?
  2. Was Andy Reid the sole decision maker on the Juan Castillo decision?
  3. How involved is Andy Reid with the personnel department?
  4. Do you hold coaches accountable for mental mistakes and turnovers made by players?
  5. Does Andy Reid continue to display the desire that he once had? Does the team’s passive attitude reflect Andy Reid or is this just a bump in the road?

Those are tough questions for anyone who isn’t intricately involved with the Eagles organization to answer. And until we can accurately determine the answers I don’t think we can make any decisions regarding Andy Reid. But, I will try.

Question 1: How involved is Andy Reid with the defense?
-I know that when Jim Johnson was here Andy Reid was very hands off with the defense. He let Jim Johnson do his thing. Towards the end of Sean McDermott’s tenure Andy Reid started to get a little more involved on the defensive side of the ball. With Juan Castillo it is hard to tell. It looks like Andy Reid is letting Juan figure things out on his own for now but I really can’t definitively back that up.

If Andy Reid is not involved with the defense this problem is easy to solve. Juan Castillo simply cannot stay next season. Let Juan finish this year simply because there is no adequate replacement but once you get to the offseason the Eagles have to throw money at the best defensive mind on the market and let him fix the defense.

If Andy is involved with the defense then the issue becomes a little bit more complicated. Reid would obviously shoulder more of the blame if he was more responsible for the defensive performances, but you would have to determine how much of the blame falls on him as opposed to Juan Castillo and company. Right off the bat you’re going to have to rein him in if you decide to keep Andy Reid. The problem is, how willingly would Andy Reid back off of the defense? Would Andy Reid welcome a strong new coaching presence that was forced upon him?

Question 2: Was Andy the sole decision maker on the hiring of Juan Castillo?
-BIG question. Obviously Andy Reid has a MASSIVE role in this even if he wasn’t the only person behind this.

If Andy Reid made this decision by himself it signals that his power has grown too much. It signals that maybe he is so egotistical that he thinks whatever he does will work. It might signal that he thinks coaches brought up under him were predisposed for success (arrogance). If Andy Reid was the sole authority on this decision, he needs to be reined in immediately.

I get the feeling that Andy Reid shoulders the largest portion of the blame as I think that Lurie and Banner are very hands off with the coaching staff but I believe that someone else had to give Andy the green light. Hopefully the Eagles organization has learned from this and will not make the same mistake again. Andy Reid has a good eye for offensive coaches, Brian Childress and Pat Shurmer have both moved on to be head coaches and Marty Morninwheg was the Assistant Coach of the year last year. BUT that is a COMPLETELY different story on defense. Just look at all the in house position coaches that have done awful jobs ever since Jim Johnson passed. Jim Johnson clearly had an eye for coaching talent (Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Steve Spagnuolo, John Harbaugh) and it would appear that Andy Reid never picked that up from him.

The Juan Castillo mistake was colossal but I think that it was made because Andy Reid overcompensated for the lockout and wanted a familiar face. Either way, Andy Reid needs to do a better job finding a defensive coordinator.

Question 3: How involved is Andy Reid in the personnel department?
If Andy Reid is the guy behind Barry Gardner, Doug Brzezinski, Todd Pinkston, Bobbie Williams, Freddie Mithcell, Quinton Carver, Michael Lewis, Jerome McDougle, LJ Smith, Billy McMullen, Matt Ware, Reggie Brown, Matt McCoy, Ryan Moats, Chris Gocong, Victor Abiamiri, Stewart Bradley, Tony Hunt, Bryan Smith, Nate Allen and Daniel Te’o-Neshiem the Eagles might have a problem.

If you don’t know, coaches can only do so much. They need talented players. If Andy is contributing to the lack of finding defensive talent he might need to go. The Eagles are doing a fantastic job of finding talent on offense but the defensive side of the ball is an entirely different story. The Eagles defensive talent scouts haven’t really done a good job since Andy showed up. At first they were living off of Ray Rhodes leftovers and free agent signings until they hit on Lito, Sheldon, Mikell and Trent Cole and now we’re back to living off of free agent signings (and Trent Cole). Just look to what former NFL scout Dave Razzano said about talent.

The common denominator of winning teams at any level, from little league, to high school, college and all the way up to the Professional ranks is having outstanding talent. Everybody knows it, but few actually say it, especially ex coaches who get on TV and constantly promote the talents of their coaching peers. This is why a quote from none other than former Super Bowl winning Dallas Cowboy coach Jimmy Johnson in a USA Today article back in 2008, is not only my favorite but should be every NFL personnel man’s favorite as well. In an article regarding how winning teams are built, Johnson says, "The No.1 key for a successful franchise – even more important than the owner and head coach – is an outstanding talent evaluator."

If you’re not getting talent. You’re not going to be successful. So if Andy Reid is contributing to the lack of talent, it’s time to start looking elsewhere for a coach that can find talent or rein him in and make it so he has less of a say with the scouts. 

Question 4: Do you hold coaches accountable for mental mistakes and turnovers made by players?
I honestly have no idea. Coaches can only do so much. Are they responsible if Vick turns into pressure and throws a screen pass that gets tipped and picked? Is Andy Reid responsible for Jeremy Maclin’s dropped pass? Is Andy Reid accountable for Jason Avant’s fumble? Is Andy Reid not drilling them enough? Are the players not understanding the importance of taking care of the ball? Is Andy Reid struggling to make that clear? Or is it just the players?

Question 5: Does Andy Reid continue to display the desire that he once had? Does the team’s passive attitude reflect Andy Reid or is this just a bump in the road?
Has Andy Reid grown complacent? Does he still have the hunger he had a decade ago? Has his message grown tired and stale? It would appear that this is a possibility. We have no idea as fans but if the team is indeed a reflection of it’s coach, this is a bad sign.

When we call for Andy Reid’s head we don’t really take into account all of the great things he has done. More than a decade of consistent success. A great offensive scheme. Great quarterback play. Consistent shots in the playoffs. It would be tough to ever find a coach who could ever duplicate the success that Andy Reid has had. Most coaches can’t find one good QB. Andy Reid has found 4 quarterbacks (McNabb, Feeley, Kolb, Vick) that have been franchise quarterbacks or have been deemed franchise quarterbacks by other teams. We’ve had the pleasure of watching some great players who didn’t just show up and develop by accident. Donovan McNabb was a borderline hall of famer before he left Philadelphia, Brian Westbrook didn’t have the longevity of other backs but in his prime he was the closest thing to Barry Sanders since Barry Sanders. We got to watch Terrell Owens in his prime, one of the best receivers of all time. We’ve had the pleasure of watching Michael Vick who is one of the most dynamic athletes to ever step foot on a football field. And now we’re getting to watch LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin develop into premier playmakers. Do we really want to get rid of a guy who can run an offense as well as Andy Reid?

So, after careful consideration my thoughts on moving forward are this:

  1. Fire Howie Roseman-Yes he is energetic and smart. But he also had a major say in the past two drafts and the way this roster is structured. Somebody has to take the fall. The upstart GM takes the fall over the head coach who has sustained success through 3 general managers and thus proven that he ranks higher than any GM. Howie Roseman is the face of the last two drafts that have been a complete disaster thus far. With Joe Banner our salary cap will always be in good hands so I'm not concerned about that.
  2. Hire a GM with football experience -We need someone who can find talent and quite frankly we need someone who comes from an organization that has a proven track record of finding talent  (Scott Pioli), has played football (Ozzie Newsome), coached football  and/or is a former scout (Ted Thompson, Thomas Dimitroff, AJ Smith). We don’t need another white-collar guy. We need a football guy that actually knows his stuff.
  3. Find a defensive coordinator - Find a guy who can come in and turn this defense around. We’ve got pieces, we just need someone who can use them. If you look at great defensive coordinators they often have previous experience as a defensive coordinator. You don’t want a hot shot fresh face, you want a guy with experience at different locations, in different schemes who has had previous experience coordinating a defense (often times this occurs at the college level). Right now my guy is Jon Hoke, the defensive coordinator from the Chicago Bears. He has experience in the zone blitz 3-4 defense under Dom Capers, he has Tampa 2 experience under Lovie Smith and he has coordinated Florida and Kent State defenses in college. Plus he is a former player and comes from a football family (his brother Brady is the head coach of Michigan).
  4. Rein in Andy Reid -Reel him in a bit in every aspect. Andy Reid is a good coach but he isn’t the kind of guy who you want to hand the keys to a franchise and he has proven that. It has to be a coordinated effort amongst several people and there has to be checks and balances.

What do you guys think?

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